TRAVEL BLOG: Sam’s Final Entry from Japan

10 May

Hey, everyone!  So this is my last entry for the semester and I really appreciate those of you who have checked out my blog.  This last entry might sound a bit pessimistic, but it features a good message.  It deals with what I learned from this whole experience and what others can do if he/she finds him/herself in a similar situation.  I need to start by saying this program didn’t go the way I had hoped.  My host father became sick before I got here and, despite searching, my program couldn’t find another host family at such short notice.  As a result, I got placed into a dormitory, which hurt my daily Japanese usage.  Also, I got placed into a Japanese class one level lower than appropriate.  If that wasn’t enough, my Japanese conversation partner left for the United States and will return to Japan in early June (She left in February).  All this put me into a really frustrated mood and I started hanging out in my dorm room a lot, not wanting to communicate.  I told a friend about these problems and he told me something that really helped make me feel better: “Studying abroad is what you make of it.  Don’t let education disrupt your learning, especially during this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”  I started going out more often to stores, restaurants, after-school programs and other places where native speakers could be found.  I started watching my favorite movies dubbed in Japanese (or a Japanese movie), listening to Japanese music and reading Japanese magazines (I still can’t read everything due to unidentified kanji (Chinese characters).  As a result, I learned a lot of new vocabulary, my listening has improved dramatically and I encountered a lot of amazing experiences along the way.  I got a bad hand of cards during this semester, but I didn’t let that ruin everything.  Studying abroad isn’t just about studying (In fact, I might go far as to say that those who feel that way would be wasting their time studying abroad).  Studying abroad is really about experiencing the culture first hand and gaining an inside view of how another culture views the world.  Being abroad allows you to understand how if feels to live daily life as a foreigner and, in my case, a racial minority among a homogenous society.  I’m still learning new things even now.  To those people who are considering studying abroad, let me say this:  Don’t let a bad experience (or multiple, as I found) define your time abroad.  You only have a semester/year, so make it incredible.  That seems like a good note to stop on.  Thank you all so much for reading my blog and thank you to Sarah for making this blog happen.  Oh, and I have a photo attached of myself with my Calligraphy final project (No, I don’t have my grade yet).  Thought it would work as a good final picture.  Thank you all again and Sayonara!


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